WordPress is one of the most popular website development and CMS platforms available out there. More often than not, it is the first choice for website owners and developers owing to the fact that it is easy to use, stable, free of cost and offers a ton of plugins and themes to make your website look and work, exactly the way you imagine it. As a result, WordPress commands approximately 31% of the CMS market share and you can read more about these statistics here. With such a huge market share, it is easy to imagine that there are a ton of WordPress websites out there and a multitude more who are planning to use WordPress for their upcoming websites. That being said, it is extremely essential to have a good understanding of what WordPress Optimization is.
WordPress optimization is the process of enhancing, tweaking and customizing the WordPress set up in order to improve performance, make it faster and more easily discoverable. It consists of many things, including, having the right specifications, updating WordPress, optimizing databases, managing plugins etc. All of which are gear to make the WordPress website a lot more efficient. Let’s get into the specifics of WordPress management and see what it entails.
1. Having the right system specifications:
WordPress like any other software has its specific requirements in terms of hardware and utilities to run it smoothly. For WordPress, you need the following:
PHP version 7.2 or greater.
MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater.
HTTPS supportThe first thing you need to do is ensure your server has these specifications squared away. A simpler alternative would be to opt for WordPress Hosting as it already takes care of the system requirements and specifications. Not running WordPress on its ideal specifications has the threat of making your website run slow. There is also the issue of experiencing website crashes. Resolving these issues should be the first thing you need to do in the WordPress optimization process.
2. Keeping WordPress and your Plugins Up to Date:
The worst thing you could do to your WordPress website is to run it on an outdated version of WordPress. Not only will it affect the performance of the website negatively, but it will also affect the security of the website.
The truth of the matter is that with every update WordPress releases, there comes a lot of bug fixes and improvements to the platforms security fixes. It is highly recommend that your website makes the best of these aspects.Another aspect apart from keeping WordPress update is to keep your plugins and themes update. This will ensure that everything works to its full potential and there are no backward or forward compatibility issues. Also, it is recommend to only keep the plugins that you use and delete the ones that you don’t use. This will take away the need of keeping the plugins you don’t need updated and also make the overall WordPress ecosystem a lot lighter and faster. If you keep the plugins that you do not use frequently or regularly or plugins that don’t really make your job easier, then there is an unnecessary wastage of space and need for maintenance for these plugins. It is best to just keep what you use and what is helpful to your site.
3. Optimize WP-Database:
The WP Database holds everything that is dear to your website. This includes all the pages, posts, forms, form entries, plugin settings, theme settings etc. As your website keeps getting better, more and more data is store in the WP Database. Over the period, the WP Database becomes heavy and sluggish. Due to this, the overall speed of the website goes down. To avoid this, it is very important that the WP Database is periodically optimize so that it stays lean and fast. There are ways to manually do this, and you can find it in this post. There are also quite a few plugins available that can help you to keep your WP database optimized. Some of these are, WPOptimize, Advanced Database Cleaner and WP DMManager which have proven to work in the past.
4. Optimizing Speed:
Speed is important for a good user experience. Moreover, having a fast website helps with organic search visibility. To understand where you stand on the speed front, use tools like Lighthouse and Google PageSpeed Insights. These tools will not only help you understand where you stand in terms of website speed but also provide a clear plan of action to improve it. Some basic things that you need to take care of are:
Enabling Gzip on the server
Ensuring that you compress and optimize images
utilize sprites to deliver images more efficiently and try to make the best of server-side and browser caching. There are also certain really good WordPress plugins that can help you improve the speed of the website. Check them out here.
Security should definitely make it to the list of your optimization action items. No website owner wants to go through the painful process of recovering from a website breach or data loss. That being said, there are ways to optimize the security of your WordPress website as well. The first thing you need to ensure is that your WordPress is update, and we have covered this in the earlier point. Another aspect you need to take care of is to ensure you have SSL setup on your website. Moreover, ensure that the directories such as WP-Content and WP-Upload do not allow any. PHP code to be run on them. Additionally, it would be a good idea to have 3rd party sophisticated tools to ramp up the security. For instance, our WordPress Hosting comes with SiteLock and Codeguard as standard on our WordPress + Security plans which takes care of the security of your website and is a customized solution we have crafted especially for our WordPress audience.
These 5 steps should be the starting point of WordPress optimization and you can evolve over time once you get into the groove of doing these things.
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